Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Swaziland April 2008: Day 1 and 2

Day one:

We started our week of medical clinics at Madonsa where we saw 322 patients. There were no surprises other than a late afternoon hailstorm, followed by a thunderstorm as we're examining children outside. The medical team got their feet wet, so to speak and finished off the day feeling more comfortable about the types of children and adults that will be seen for the rest of the week. We were visited by two doctors from Baylor, who joined us in seeing patients and it was comforting to know that our approach and treatment of common diseases was in harmony with what the Baylor team has been doing.

Day two:

Day two was spent at Makholweni where we saw 400 patients. Today was a difficult day for many of us as we began to see the impact of the epidemic of HIV and AIDS and the general well-being, both health and spiritual, of the patients that we saw. I took care of an 11-year-old girl who'd been raped and needed to be examined. I was fortunate to have Teresa, Jackie, a Children's Cup missionary and one of the teachers get her to trust me to do the examination. A 14-year-old boy with HIV, who had been on ARV medication, looking very sick told us that he had stopped taking his medications, because his grandmother refused to allow him to do so. She couldn't believe that a child 14 years of age could have HIV and AIDS. We are struggling now with finding a way to convince her to let him take his medication.

A young lady whom I wrote about a year ago, who has a seizure disorder and was raped, came back to the clinic today and had a seizure right in front of us. You may recall that when she falls she hits the right side of her face. And today was no exception. It was clear that she had been having multiple seizures, and her face was severely bruised and swollen on the right side. We saw two children with severe asthma, who required immediate intervention. And there were many more.

For what it's worth, I continue to be amazed at the resilience of those who have not. And what is more amazing is to see that regardless of what is happening to them they maintain a sense of dignity and continue to hold their head high as best they can under the circumstances. The young lady who had a seizure clearly demonstrated this. As she was recovering from her seizure and still incoherent, she reached for a paper towel that we brought to clean her face with and took it herself and started to brush herself off.

There's more to come as the week moves forward. There is more for us to see and more for us to realize how fortunate we are to have the blessings that have been bestowed on us. Being humbled is a difficult thing to experience. Today was a very humbling day.

In all things give thanks,